Bannockburn Christian Academy - Austin Texas Private School

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Archive for November, 2015

Fear and Faith

I was blessed to be born into a generational Christian family going back to my great-grandmother, Nettie Jewel Culpepper. Each generation of parents that followed new the importance of raising their family to know God’s ways and come to a personal relationship with Him. I accepted Christ when I was six knowing the decision I was making. I continued to grow in the Lord attending three different private schools through 7th grade.

From 8th grade through 12th grade I attended public school and found it challenging. My teen years were trying to my parents, but their love, support, and guidance in God’s ways brought me through a period of redemption.

I attended college at the age of 22 and began my teaching career when I was about 29. Through all of this I saw God moving in my life but I took Him for granted. He had always been there for me, which I believe was greatly a result of my mom’s and grandmother’s prayers over my life. I had not fully committed to walking with Him every day. I’m not naturally a fearful person. I consider myself to be pretty optimistic, but this last summer, that was tested.

I have also been very blessed to live in a large family, most of which live right here in Austin. I grew up doing everything with my family, and so much so with my cousins, that today, they are like siblings. We are a family of faith. We also have not had much death in our family. We had a few expected deaths of grandparents and great-grandparents, but we’ve only had one unexpected. We are grateful, but for me, I believe this played a big part in how I lost sight of God’s provisions for our family; that because of Him, we were blessed.

For the past few years, my dad had felt short of breath and weak, but he just assumed it was because he was getting older. Come last May, my parents took a trip to Colorado. Shortly after arriving, my dad had great trouble breathing. He of course told my mom, but not to the extent of how bad it was because he did not want to frighten her. They cut their trip short and came home. My dad later told my mom that he was trying to at least get her to Colorado Springs, where they have friends, because he thought he was going to die, and he wanted her to be near people she knew.

Thankfully, God sustained him, and they made it home. He felt better when he got home, mostly because of the elevation relief, but was still having trouble breathing. He took a stress test and failed. He then went on to have an angiogram.

That day everything changed, and fear I had never experienced before entered my life. My dad had always been the rock I knew him to be. He was NEVER sick. Really! He had never spent the night in the hospital and rarely took medication for anything, even for a headache. We thought at most, my dad would need a stint put in his heart. We waited patiently to hear from the doctor on the progress of the test. Then, the phone call came. They needed to take a closer look. We wanted to hold strong that all was okay, but silently we feared the worst.

We finally were able to see my dad and speak to the doctor. We were told my dad had heart disease with 80% blockage in his heart. I cannot express the emotions that came over me, or how I suppressed them for the sake of my mom. I didn’t want my emotion to cloud hers. I didn’t want her to fall apart because I had. I held it all in. I would hold it all in for quite some time. We all listened intently to the directions and recommendations of the doctor.

Within a week’s time, my dad was going in for triple bypass surgery. The fear I felt was overwhelming. We prayed and prepared and held to our faith that no matter what the outcome, God was in control. I had never prayed so much until then. I soon realized I had taken God for granted for all he had ever done for me and my family. This forced me to look back at my life and the lives of those closest to me and recognize just how much God was a part of moving in our lives, providing for us, protecting us. My dad was out of surgery in a little over an hour and was one of the quickest to recover that the nurses and doctors had ever seen. He is now doing very well. I was the most grateful I had ever been in my life.

It was not until Bobbi asked the teachers during inservice this past August to come prepared to share who or what was important in our lives, that I allowed myself to experience the emotions I had been holding in. When it came time for me to share what I was grateful for, I could barely speak through the tears that came pouring out. I expressed how I had taken God for granted and it took my dad almost dying to see how important it was to spend time with Him and in His Word.

It was never that God wasn’t there. I just failed to see Him. My greatest joy now is recognizing when God is with me, moving in my life in ways I could never do for myself, opening and closing doors according to His will, and simply His ever present presence in my life that brings the greatest peace.

Vanessa Robbins, 5th Grade

We Are Authors

For the last two weeks we have been working very hard at writing books on what we know about. We culminated the process by having a “We Are Authors Day”.   Each child’s parents were invited to come and listen to their child read their book. My students were so very proud of their hard work and could not wait to read to their parents and friends!

To begin the process, I conferenced with each student and asked them what they knew a lot about. We talked about the topics they could potentially write about and what they knew about their idea. The topics ranged from cats to ninjas, and plants to video games; it really was so much fun listening to the kids talking about things they are “experts” on. Once every student had their topic chosen, we got started on the project.

Each day, my students would write and illustrate one page of their book, putting in as much detail as they could. I met with small groups of children every day throughout the process to talk about what they would like their sentence to be on each page, and what the illustration could look like. I then worked with the students to help them sound out each word in the sentence. Once their sentence was complete, they went and drew their illustration.

What I really loved was listening to my students while they talked to one other about what they were doing. I often heard “Hey, that looks really cool!” or “I love that cat, it’s so cute!” The kids were really enjoying the wonderful praise, and loved looking at what their friends were doing as well.

The day before our “We Are Authors” day, I had my students work on their covers. They had to decide on a title and what they could draw that would tell a reader what their story was about. We, of course, added to their cover “Written and Illustrated by….” They were so proud that they were real authors! I laminated their cover, hole punched each page, and tied the books together with string. The kids all did such a wonderful job, the books looked amazing!

On the day of the event, my students came dressed in their “Sunday best.” They were so excited to read their books to their parents and friends.

The kiddos and I set up our classroom with chairs for the parents and students, and set up a table where we could put all of our yummy treats that were coming in.

After each child finished reading their book, we celebrated our hard work by enjoying fruit, mini muffins, yogurt, and orange juice.

I was so very proud of each of my students for working so hard, and I think they may have been even prouder of themselves! They had so much fun with this whole process that they asked me when we were going to start our next books. I love how much they enjoyed themselves, and I can’t wait to read their next books!

Christina Simonetti, Kindergarten

Discovering Hidden Textures

“The true worth of a man is not to be found in man himself, but in the colours and textures that come alive in others.” – Albert Schweitzer

In the art world texture refers to the tactile qualities of a surface, actual, or to the visual representation of such surface qualities, implied.

Currently in art class students are creating texture rubbings by using crayons and a variety of organic (from nature) and geometric (man-made) shapes. The physical and exploratory nature of this assignment causes the most reluctant or introverted learner to dash about excitedly in order to collect and reveal the hidden surface textures surrounding their lives. They often squeal in delight while rubbing the crayon over the object as the image magically appears. And as if they can’t believe their own eyes they quickly find a friend to show them their latest newly discovered texture.

Encourage your young artist to discover some of the hidden textures that surround your home and take notice how the 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional world around us “comes alive” through actual and implied texture.

Martin Johnson Heade
Martin Johnson Heade
American, 1819–1904
Cattleya Orchid and Three Hummingbirds, 1871

Rene Santoro, Art Director

Pieces of the BCA Puzzle

The school office is a very busy place. It is where families have their first interaction with BCA. It is where students come if they need help or feel bad. Teachers come to get information or supplies. Parents come by to get answers to questions or to just visit. Jackets and water bottles come here to find their owners. It is a busy place.

As I sit at my desk in this office, I have a great view of the different pieces of the BCA puzzle. One part is the parent. Parents come to the front door at all times of the day. Some have a special way of entering which always gives me a laugh. (You know who you are!) These adults can be zany, but they have servant hearts. The varying gifts shared with our school are invaluable.

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A school and class without a leader would be chaos. That’s why we have a principal and teachers. I see them as the sides of the puzzle keeping the loose pieces from spilling out. Teachers spend a lot of time preparing lessons, organizing experiments, deciphering handwriting, and praying for the children in their classrooms. Our principal educates herself to be a better leader, answers so very many questions, and supports all of us in every way she possibly can.

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Every parent who comes into the school is looking for one thing – a safe place for the student they love to enter and receive an education in a loving, Christian environment. These students are the best part of the puzzle making up our school. They want to learn and wiggle and please and laugh and question and wiggle some more. They put the joy in my day.

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God is involved here, too. His hand created each individual and brought them together at this time in this place. He is moving the loose pieces around to their proper place. The amazing thing is that the image on our puzzle was known by God from the very beginning.

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Each day I look forward to seeing each new section being completed. With the amazing people God has brought together I can’t help but believe it will be a masterpiece.

Kim Graham, Administrative Assistant

Building Scholar-Musicians

Many of you graciously support and attend the Academy’s Christmas and Spring musical performances, but what else do our scholar-musicians do during the year? We learn through the dimensions of the Kodály methodology!

This past summer, I proudly completed a three-year journey to earn my Kodály Certification. The Austin ISD partners with Texas State to bring in the top Kodály instructors in the nation to equip local instructors with curriculum and teaching guidance (and to assign us a lot of homework!).

The Kodály methodology (pronounced Ko-dye), inspired by the philosophy of Zoltan Kodály, builds individual and group singing/musical skills. Research shows that the use of the methodology correlates with improvements in general classroom behavior and attitudes. Moreover, the methodology boosts reading advancements and powers learning through critical thinking. Kodály achieves musicianship primarily through singing, although the methodology utilizes instruments to enhance and support learning.


The five main dimensions of musicianship in the Kodály method are (1) stewards of cultural heritage, (2) performance through singing, moving and playing instruments, (3) music literacy, (4) improvisation, and (5) informed audience members.

Here are some brief ways we incorporate these dimensions into Music class:

(1) Stewards of cultural heritage – Zoltan Kodály deeply believed in the importance of leveraging a repertoire of folk songs indigenous to each child’s culture. These songs are presented in an order that is best suited to the developmental level of the child. Thus, the music incorporated is already a part of the children’s cultural experience. You would likely recognize many of the folk songs we sing in class, including “Rain, Rain, Go Away” and “Dinah.”

(2) Performance through singing, moving, and playing instruments – This is an easy one! Everything we do includes singing, moving and playing instruments. From K4 to 5th grade, we incorporate these skills daily. By the upper grades, we are performing our curriculum-based songs while using multiple instrumental accompaniments (sometimes improvised by our scholars!) and singing in a round. The coordinated outcome is truly a lovely moment.

(3) Music literacy – Just as we all learn to read and write in our native language – and often in additional languages, music is also a language that needs to be learned. In addition to performing new concepts and skills, we also practice reading and writing musical patterns, including rhythms and melodies expressed in stick patterns and on the music staff.

(4) Improvisation – This can be a very scary word! When we hear “improvisation,” we picture a virtuosic pianist composing an entire piece on the spot, or a jazz singer scatting her way through the interlude. But, even our Kindergartners can improvise! All they need is a choice. For example, when we are discovering “loud and soft” or “fast and slow” sounds, one of our scholars can choose one of our songs and how we should perform it. One choice might be “Bounce High, Bounce Low” with a soft voice. The difficulty level rises every year, and, by 4th/5th, our scholars can answer my musical phrase with one of their own, choosing from a list of answers and singing it back to me. The photo below is an example of the question and answer exercise for the upper grades.

(5) Informed audience members – This dimension includes listening skills and critical thinking skills, important capabilities across any discipline. This strand culminates in the 4th and 5th grades when we prepare for and attend a concert by the Austin Symphony. The following photo is from our trip last May to the Long Center for the concert.

Rigorously applying the dimensions of the Kodály methodology ensures our BCA scholars truly become scholar-musicians.

Visit BCA’s Music page to learn more about the Kodály system and how it is incorporated at BCA.


Elizabeth Gilligan

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